Banning violent games unconstitutional

Judge: States may not ban expression just because it dislikes how speech shapes kids.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

The makers of violent video games such as Doom, Wolfenstein 3D or Mortal Kombat must be jumping for their joysticks, as a U.S. District Court ruled that states have no right to bar distribution of materials simply because they show violent behavior, reports Associated Press.

U.S. District Judge Brady said that banning the sale of violent video games to minors violates free speech rights and cannot be enforced. He has issued an injunction, calling the law an "invasion of First Amendment rights" of producers, retailers and the minors who play the games.

"Depictions of violence are entitled to full constitutional protection," Brady wrote Thursday.

In all, five states have issued similar bans. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said in a statement late Friday she believes violent video games harm children.

"I'm calling on all parents to diligently monitor the video games that their children are allowed to play. If the courts cannot protect our children, then we need to do it by rejecting the merchant of violence," the statement said.

Judge Brady rejected the arguments put forth by the state that video games depicting extreme violence can be "psychologically harmful" to minors.

"The state may not restrict video game expression merely because it dislikes the way that expression shapes an individual's thoughts and attitudes," he wrote.
Editorial standards